- Educate your faith community about the unique nature of older children's adoptions and special needs adoptions. Other families in the church may need help to know how to support a new adoptive family, and they may discover that they are ready too to respond to children who need families.
- Encourage adoptive families to share their stories
- Seek out Christians who have been involved in facilitating such adoptions in your area and invite them to speak in your church
- Contact the
for information that can be distributed in your church.
- Contact Presbyterians Pro-Life for information on adoption.
- Invite someone in your community who is an expert on such adoptions to provide an adult Sunday School class about the subject
- Contact your local Department of Human Services for information to include in bulletin inserts and/or newsletters
- Offer support to the family prior to the child's arrival. This is not the arrival of a baby, but you can encourage the family with your own excitement about the coming of a new child into the community of the church as well as into the family's home.
- Gather clothing the child may need
- Assist the family in preparing the child's bedroom (other children may give gifts such as teddy bears, posters, etc.)
- Provide a bike, rollerblades, sled, etc. (Many older children have never had their own personal items before.)
- Welcome and embrace the child into your church family. In very homey ways you can make the child feel that he or she belongs.
- Take time to introduce yourself to the child
- Make a point of asking the child about himself or herself: what he or she likes to do, favorite foods and activities. Avoid questions about the child's past; remember that he or she is beginning a new life.
- Celebrate the adoption. The church can help the family know that this child has become a part of the covenant community:
- Acknowledge the adoption in worship
- Offer a special "adoption" shower, regardless of the child's age (most older children being adopted have missed out on special occasions just for them).
- Dedicate the fellowship hour in honor of the family.
- Teach the child a special skill. Older and special needs children may not have had a lot of personal attention as they were growing up:
- Offer to make, bake or build something with the child (generally, older children who are adopted have not been offered as many opportunities as other children)
- Take the child fishing, swimming, biking, etc.
- Any opportunity to help a child is an important one.
- Help families celebrate special occasions. Remember that this family is creating new memories for the child. Help make them extra-special.
- Give the parents a break. Adoption of an older or special needs child places adjustment pressures on a family that the church family can help bear:
- Offer to make supper for the family
- Provide the parents with a night out
- Plan an activity night with the child(ren); let the parents relax at home
- Spend time helping the child with homework
- Nurture the child in the faith:
- Make sure the child has an age-appropriate Bible
- Tell the child your faith story
- Encourage the child in his or her own faith
- Remember this is God's child and he has called this child by NAME!